By Bill Parry
When the Independent Democratic Conference was dissolved and its members reunited with the mainline Democrats in April after seven years of aligning with Republicans in a power sharing arrangement, state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) declared it to be a historic moment that put the party in position to take over the majority in the Senate for just the second time in more than 50 years.
In January, U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), the chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party, had warned IDC members if they did not return by April he would back their challengers in the primaries.
Peralta, who spent 14 months as an IDC member, told TimesLedger Newspapers in April that reunification became possible with a new cooperation among congressional leadership to take back the House of Representatives in Washington tied to coordination to recapture the state Senate with the governor and the county leadership in all five boroughs. On Monday, the Queens County Democratic Party announced their endorsement of Peralta’s re-election campaign.
“New Yorkers want to see their public officials fighting to advance progressive values and enact measures that will create good-paying jobs, expand access to health care, protect immigrants, and keep guns out of our schools and communities,” Queens County Democratic Party Executive Secretary Michael Reich said. “The only way these goals will be accomplished is by working together to elect Democrats at every level of government. For this reason, the Queens County Democratic Party believes Jose Peralta is the right choice for District 13 and endorses his re-election.”
Peralta said he and Crowley had spoken several times since the reunification and that he would seek the endorsement.
“I am immensely proud to have received the support of Queens County,” Peralta said. “For the past eight years, I have had the great privilege of serving my constituents with the steadfast leadership they deserve. With the support from Queens County, I once again reaffirm my commitment to champion progressive values and issues that move our state forward. Working with my Queens colleagues, I have fought tirelessly for working men and women by successfully raising the minimum wage and passing paid family leave, bettering our schools, securing historic levels of legal aid funding for immigrants, and protecting tenants and homeowners. Our work is not over, but this endorsement signals to the people of Queens that we are united in fighting for them.”
Jackson Heights resident Jessica Ramos, who resigned as director of Latino media at City Hall to launch a primary challenge against Peralta, released a statement Monday on the Queens County Democratic Party’s endorsement. Ramos, who served as a Democratic district leader from 2010 to 2014, did not mention the organization as pressed her attack on Peralta.
“First Jose Peralta embraced the party of Trump. Then he sought support from the domestic abuser Hiram Monserrate. Now that it’s an election year, he has conveniently decided to join the Democratic Party once again,” Ramos said. Comptroller [Scott] Stringer, Council Members [Costa] Constantinides and [Jimmy] Van Bramer, the Working Families Party, and thousands of grassroots supporters are supporting our campaign — because they know that unlike Peralta, I will never betray our district or are party. I’m running to fix the subways, protect affordable housing, and fund our public schools — and when I get to Albany, I will actually deliver for working families.”
The Peralta campaign took umbrage with Ramos’ remarks.
“Senator Peralta has never embraced the policies of President Trump and has not sought out the support of fellow Democrat Hiram Monserrate,” Peralta for Senate Spokeswoman Jennifer Blatus said. “Jessica Ramos has delivered false information to deflect from the fact that Queens Democrats have united and are moving forward together for the betterment of the borough.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr